Former Syracuse star Rony Seikaly was dubbed “The Spin Doctor” during his basketball career for his spin moves in the paint, but it’s an even more fitting nickname for his new career: Spinning turntables.
That’s right, the 6-foot-11 former college star and NBA big man is now a DJ. Don’t believe us? Check out his website or watch him in action yourself. He’s even signed with Subliminal Records and will release a new floor-friendly tune every month starting in July.
Said Seikaly of the nickname: “It’s funny how it came together, but people are loving the fact that was my name as a basketball player as well.”
Having a hard time remembering Seikaly’s playing career? Let’s refresh your memory. Born in Lebanon, Seikaly grew up in Greece and got his big break at a summer camp when he caught the attention of a young Boston University head coach with an eye for talent named Rick Pitino.
Incredibly raw as a player when he arrived on Syracuse’s campus, he blew up as a junior in the 1987 NCAA Tournament when he almost led the Orange to a national title. That is, until Indiana’s Keith Smart hit his legendary game-winning jumper that Seikaly says he still hasn’t gotten over. A year later, Seikaly wound up the first-ever draft pick of the expansion Miami Heat, going ninth overall.
When Seikaly arrived in South Florida over 20 years ago, Miami Beach wasn’t exactly glamorous.
“We were kind of the pioneers of South Beach,” Seikaly said. “When I moved into South Beach, there was no South Beach as you know it. It was one bar and that was it. It was basically more of a retirement home with homeless people, with crack houses — Miami Beach was not a destination for anybody… I was here in the beginning and we were one of the first people to start a club in South Beach.”
Seikaly has owned numerous clubs in the Miami area, and is currently the owner of the Wall Lounge in the luxurious W Hotel (the hotel where LeBron James is reportedly throwing a bash this weekend).
While he said he’s been on turntables since he was 14 years old, Seikaly didn’t play at a club until about two years ago when he performed at one of his own. After that, friends who also owned clubs started asking him to play at their spots. From there, “it caught fire.”
In May and June alone, Seikaly played stateside in Miami, New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Southampton, as well as overseas in Cannes, Paris and Dubai.
He has several favorite places to play, but one club that holds a special place in his heart is “Amnesia” on the island of Ibiza off the coast of Spain, the party capital of Europe seen as the equivalent of Cancun. Seikaly said it’s the mecca of clubs and compared performing there to playing basketball at Madison Square Garden.
Seikaly went through an ugly 2005 divorce with model Elsa Benitez, who graced the cover of the 2001 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. It was rumored that Seikaly partied too hard for her liking. He denies that had anything to do with the split, pointing out that he doesn’t even drink alcohol.
“I’ve been doing the same exact thing since I was 14 years old, so nothing has changed for me and nothing has changed for my family or anybody else,” Seikaly said. “You know, what comes out when you’re in a bitter divorce is a lot of fabrication that is kind of put in by the lawyers just to add spice to the story.”
What’s next for Seikaly? He releases a CD in October, with the first track entitled “Come With Me” to be released on July 28. Also this month, Seikaly is taking a vacation in his native Lebanon, playing at a club in Beirut and closing out July with a performance at Ibiza’s Amnesia.
And you thought this was the Summer of LeBron? More like Summer of Seikaly.
Jim Weber is the founder of LostLettermen.com, a historical college football and men’s basketball site that links the sports’ past to the present.